How I'm Shaking Off the Winter Blues
This past fall and winter were long and hard months for me. In addition to long, dark, cold days I experienced some personal losses. All of that threw me for a loop, and tdhat ho-hum feeling of general malaise has been hard to shake.
It made it difficult to get up and go even during the days that were warm(er) and sunny(ish). I wanted to take advantage of them, but it took some will power to create some new habits.
So, here's what I'm doing to shake off the winter blues and embrace the spring with arms wide open.
And here's my secret: it's really just one thing that makes a huge difference.
Start The Day Outside... ASAP
The winter blues can lead to lazy days, when it's hard to summon the motivation to get out of the house or put on "hard pants." That lethargy can be hard to shake off even though the weather is improving.
But I notice a huge difference in my mood when I am intentionally spending time outside.
I know that going outside is good for me. As a mom who is constantly overstimulated with young children, going outside means they can run with wild abandon while I drink my coffee in fresh air. As the saying goes, you can't bounce off the walls if there are no walls!
But here's the thing...
Knowledge doesn't lead to change unless it's paired with action.
I know I'm a happier, more relaxed mom and human when I spend time outside.
But I can know that, and still never get outside.
Intertia means that if I don't get outside in the morning when our energy is at its best, I might not get outside at all. After all, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.
So I have to power my knowledge with action. We created a new rhythm for our days so there is natural momentum for us to do the things we know will bring us joy.
The rhythm for our days is to get outside early.
My kids know the plan: we're going outside and we're staying outside.
Usually we get up, get dressed, I pour my first cup of coffee, and we eat something for breakfast. They grab scooters and shovels and I grab a second mug of coffee, and we're off to the driveway.
I drink my coffee outside while my kids putz around. And we stay there no matter how much whining happens. There's really nothing wrong with letting kids verbalize that they want to be inside or they don't know what they want to do. If we don't cater to their discomfort immediately, they learn to break through and eventually they do find activities that grab their curiosity.
Did you know on average it takes children about 45 minutes to enter deep play? That time is spent wandering around, complaining, picking things up and putting them down, and waiting for inspiration to strike. Don't be afraid of it!
The positive benefits
On these lighter, somewhat warmer mornings, the sun on my face has been therapeutic. I feel the dopamine attempting to flow, and the vitamin D absorbing into my skin.
Fall in New England means spring days can still have quite a bite to them even in to May, but every minute counts. Even something as simple as drinking a glass of water while sitting on the front stoop can do loads to boost my mood.
Plus, if you're tracking for the 1000 hours outside challenge, small visits outdoors can go a long way to adding those priceless extra minutes.
I notice a huge difference in my mood and my behavior on the days when we get outside early... or when we don't. I'm less irritable, more fun, and more flexible when I get that time in. It brings me peace and helps me level out.
This practice has helped me turn the page on winter blues and be more open to what this next season in life has to offer me.
What are the practices that you do to help you stay even keel as a parent/human? Is getting outside a part of your daily and weekly rhythm?